Hoopers’ Tunbridge Wells Department Store Breaks Away From Brokerage 

Department store group Hoopers is reverting to a wild buying and planned display combination for the greeting cards in its Tunbridge Wells store, with the new card selection to be installed on new fixtures this Thursday (September 12). This follows almost five years of being supplied by brokerage.

“I’m really excited about breaking away from brokerage,” Michael Laybourn, Hoopers’ buyer of greeting cards, homeware and furniture told PG Buzz. Through the move to a new plan and wild buying he said the hope is “to get back our unique individuality and to support smaller publishers who are the ones that give the icing on the cake and create a point of difference,” he added.

Above: Michael Laybourn, Hoopers’ card, homewares and furniture buyer with colleague Rachel Aylmer-Smith, buyer’s assistant for the department store group.
Above: Michael Laybourn, Hoopers’ card, homewares and furniture buyer with colleague Rachel Aylmer-Smith, buyer’s assistant for the department store group.

Explaining the background Michael said that it was the right decision back in 2015 to swop to brokerage for its Tunbridge Wells, Wilmslow and Torquay stores in order “to take pressure off in the stores, by reducing the number of agent/rep visits, the number of orders to be raised and received and to reduce the amount of admin that is created in store by raising orders. It was also to help me take on further buying responsible across homewares and beauty.”

However with Michael receiving more support from the Hoopers buying team on his other areas of responsibility, it has freed up some time for him to be able to dedicate to his favourite product area of greeting cards.

“We had a business review meeting in June – after I had been to PG Live and seen all the wonderful new products on offer from publishers! A department relocation in our Tunbridge Wells store,” all contributed to clinching the decision to move away from brokerage.

Above: Hoopers’ Torquay store is to continue to be supplied by W-Select under brokerage for the time being.
Above: Hoopers’ Torquay store is to continue to be supplied by W-Select under brokerage for the time being.

Michael is incredibly grateful of all the support he has received from W-Select (Woodmansterne’s brokerage arm) who has run the brokerage in Hoopers and without hesitation has worked with Woodmansterne to plan the new selection which features designs from many publishers. However, he has left 20% open to wild buying.

In addition to Woodmansterne, Paperlink, Tracks, Pigment, and Talking Pictures, the new card display in the Tunbridge Wells store will incorporate designs from Redback Cards, Orwell Publishing, The Handcrafted Card Co, Hearts Designs and Ohh Deer for the first time, as well as reintroducing Paper Salad, Belly Button, Berni Parker and Cherry Orchard designs into the selection.

“We will make regular design changes coinciding with visits to trade shows to give our customers a stronger and more varied selection from which to make their choice. Hoopers is an independent unique store and our card buying needs to reflect that and support independent publishers alike,” believes Michael.

While there are no immediate plans to alter the buying approach in Hoopers’ Wilmslow or Torquay stores, Michael admits that “if, as I hope, we see significant changes in both sales and the visual impact by reverting to a planned system with wild buying, we would consider a similar move next year in those stores.”

Top: Hoopers’ Tunbridge Wells store has moving away from brokerage with

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